Prince Rupert Minor Hockey League players are required to suit up prior to entering the arena. Volunteers at the doors complete health checks before players enter the building under COVID-19 sports restrictions. Katelynn Leask 7, is walked to the door by her mom Laura Leask on Oct. 30. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Prince Rupert Minor Hockey League players are required to suit up prior to entering the arena. Volunteers at the doors complete health checks before players enter the building under COVID-19 sports restrictions. Katelynn Leask 7, is walked to the door by her mom Laura Leask on Oct. 30. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Minor Hockey, CIHL, Figure Skating and Curling – all on the ice, somewhat

Prince Rupert sports organizations weather through pandemic restrictions

Prince Rupert families and sports organizations are being affected by the COVID-19 new regulations for sports and play with restrictions that are not permitting parents to watch their child’s play or to even enter the recreational facility to get them dressed in gear.

Volunteers man the doors to complete health and wellness checks on each player prior to permitting them entry into the facility representatives from various sporting organizations told The Northern View. This is just one of the new rules implemented by the Ministry of Health, ViaSport and individual sport governing bodies to ensure safe play is conducted during the pandemic.

Minor Hockey

Nathan Rochon newly elected president of Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Association said there a lot of growing pains and restrictions for the league this year starting with a limit of 50 people in the arena during ice time. This includes players, coaches, volunteers and arena staff, which can prove difficult for such a large team sport.

With 171 players in the league this year, little ones need to attend practices fully geared up with skates tied on. Parents and caregivers deliver them to the door of the arena and are not permitted into the facility, Rochon said.

“We have 115 volunteers this year, and every one of them needs to take a COVID-19 awareness course through Hockey Canada,” Rochon said.

Restrictions are not just limited to local ice play, they affect the travel teams as well. Three Rep. teams were chosen at the season’s start and are required to play in four-team cohorts. Once the cohorts are finished playing each other, the teams must wait 14 days under COVID-19 restrictions before moving on to play in the next cohort.

Ice time is limited for various reasons and so other user groups can use the ice. The complex facilities need to be cleaned in-between age groups using the arena. Rochon said it makes scheduling games very difficult and the league is having to alternate ice time for various levels to accommodate each group getting in limited practice.

What used to be regular ice time of two and half hours per week for some age groups is now down to 1 hour every ten days for others, he said.

“We’re just so happy that the kids get to play and that there is hockey right now,” Rochon said. “I have great expectations as long as B.C. doesn’t shut down sports or hockey or change the number from 50 to 20.”

“I think you’ll see some parents that have more struggle than anybody with it (the restrictions) but the kids – it won’t matter to the kids who’s in the stands. It’s all about playing the game.”

READ MORE: Lack of suitable sports facilities affect numerous Prince Rupert organizations

CIHL – Rampage

Playing the game is currently not what The Rupert Rampage is doing. The Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) team is practicing just once a week, Travis McNeice, team president said, but the team is ready to score as soon as the go-ahead is given.

The fan-based sport is reliant on revenues from spectator participation, McNeice said.

“Unfortunately we are in a holding pattern as far as the league goes. They may have allowed the league to go on, but without fans it just doesn’t work for us,” he said.

“We want it to be a fun place for people to go. We don’t want spectators sitting on their hands. We want them yelling and screaming. We want them to know we are ready to go.”

This year the team has a Prince Rupert base of 10 to 12 players, with some skaters coming from out of town for games in a usual season. Practices are held on a Thursday night and anyone who wants to try out for the team can stop by at the practice, McNeice said.

The league is following Hockey Canada COVID-19 guidelines with only eight to 10 masked players in the dressing rooms at a time to allow for social distancing. The team hits the ice at 9 p.m. after the minor hockey league, and rink attendants have an hour to clean and sanitize in between users.

The team’s season, which usually starts with pre-games in late Sept. or early Oct sees nine teams in the league competing for the Coy Cup until March each year.

“We are all hoping for a late start. We are watching other leagues to see if we can implement anything to get it going. Until we can get a solid fan base there is no way we can go forward.”

“Our sponsors are solid, they are still there. Everyone in town wants to help out as much as they can. We have the best solid fan base in the league,” McNeice said.

Like every athlete, he said the players want to be out there playing and are not just disappointed with the lack of ice time or games.

“They have the funnest times when they are out there playing and when they are interacting with the people of Prince Rupert.”

The players miss the community interaction like “Reading with Rampage” where team members go into schools and read to students. The team president said currently due to the pandemic there is nothing happening for the team to interact and share with the public as they usually do.

“People will attest that the Rampage like to get out in the community. They like to support the community as the community supports them.”

Figure Skating

Prince Rupert Figure Skating Club expects to see a perpetual effect of COVID-19 as the pandemic restrictions have affected registration this year, Carissa Easingwood president of the club said.

Skaters are aged from three years old to 16.

“Our ice time has been pretty good.We’ve been able to stay almost the same as usual. We have around eight hours of ice time in total.

COVID-19 has definitely affected the skating club Easingwood said, with the biggest hurt wounding the youngest skaters.

“This year we are not allowed to have the ‘Precan skate” program for our littlest skaters,” she said. “We can’t have anyone who cannot fall down and get up on their own. So that takes away about 20 to 30 skaters that we’re not allowed to have this year. So that’s been pretty tough for us.”

She said with not being able to accept registrations from new skaters into the Precan Skate program the fallout will be felt in the next couple of years as there will be few skaters moving up the levels to the Canskate program. they simply will not have the fundamentals that are required in Canskate.

“So next year, where we should have had maybe 45 Can skaters, we are going to be missing 30 of them because they never skated this year. Where they should have been on the ice this year they can not progress to the next level,” she said.

The capping of numbers is financially difficult for the club with senior numbers in the Star program limited to 18 skaters as well.

Easingwoods said COVID-19 restrictions for the club have included the need for separate entrances for different levels of skaters and athletes are skating in cohorts. For the Canskate program coaches and assistants must wear masks on the ice and volunteers The senior cohort is allowed up to 18 skaters and the Canskate is permitted up to 30.

Registration has also been affected by not being able to have the registration fairs and accept new members by email only.

“We are lacking a lot of attendance due to the parameters,” she said. “The Canskate program is currently still accepting registrations due to not having skater promotions from Precan Skate.”

For the Canskate level skaters don’t need a lot of skating ability, but as the instructors are not permitted to physically touch a child under the COVID regulations, skaters need to be able to move forward and get up on their own when they fall down. Skater who can tie their own skates can put them on in the rink, but otherwise, they need to attend dressed and ready to hit the ice.

READ MORE: Swim club is back with a splash

Curling

Prince Rupert Curling Club president Natasha Lebedick said curlers are excited to get on to the ice now that the new plant has been installed at the sporting facility as the first phase of renovations.

Despite COVID-19 the second phase of renovations is progressing with a face-lift for the rental hall which is one of the largest in P.R., and then a rebuild of the adjacent kitchen and washrooms.

Lebedick said not being able to rent the upper-level and social area due to COVID-19 has been a “dampener” to the club.

On ice play will resume on Nov. 18 under the Curl B.C. guidelines in conjunction with ViaSport and Curl Canada, Lebedick said.

Each curling club has had to come up with a safety plan for its organizations and the Prince Rupert club has four-person teams to accommodate the new rules.

Lebedick said the new rules also mean there is only one sweeper permitted instead of two and markers are on the ice for social protocols. Locker rooms are closed and players need to come ice ready.

Usually, there would be an open house to promote enrollment and registrations, however, this can not occur this year under the pandemic rules, she said.

Players are capped at 50 per space in the curling club. This means up t0 50 players can be on the ice and there can be up to 50 spectators in the viewing area, but this would be hard to manage Lebedick said.

Wednesday nights at the facility will host an open league and Fridays will be for mixed teams. Lebedick said they are looking into an extra league “but for now we are starting with this.”

Currently, there are 17 teams registered for Wednesdays and 14 teams for Fridays with club membership at just over 100 people.

“The COVID-19 plan is ever-changing,” Lebedick said. “We are not making masks mandatory. It is just a recommendation.”


K-J Millar | Journalist
Send K-J email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Next week in Part 2, we will look at Basketball, racquet sports, swimming, golf and gymnastics.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

CIHL games, like this one between the Rupert Rampage and the Terrace Riverkings on Feb. 21, 2020, just before COVID-19 lockdown, do not allow for social distancing and are reliant on spectator revenue, Travis McNeice team president of the Rampage said on Nov. 5. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

CIHL games, like this one between the Rupert Rampage and the Terrace Riverkings on Feb. 21, 2020, just before COVID-19 lockdown, do not allow for social distancing and are reliant on spectator revenue, Travis McNeice team president of the Rampage said on Nov. 5. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Just Posted

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Local health authority maps are updated each week. The brown maps show the number of confirmed and active cases of COVID-19 for the week of Jan. 15 to 21, with the blue map showing cases over the past year. (Image supplied)
COVID-19 outbreak numbers increase at Acropolis and exposures are up in S.D. 52

Business COVID-19 safety plans are law, public needs to follow health protocols - Northern Health

Asher Hauknes shows his strength with Prince Rupert Gymnastics head coach Erin Hipkiss looking on Nov. 13. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Gymnastics Association benefits from Community Gaming Grant

Prince Rupert sports club to receive just less than $90,000 to build new facility

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Most Read